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LISTEN: Reporters Discuss 'Fatal Flaws' Worker Safety Series In A WFPL News Special

Michelle Hanks
Lisa Hobbs holds a photo of her and her husband dancing together. Her husband, Gene Hobbs, died from a construction site accident (when and where?).

Fatal Flaws is an investigative series examining how Kentucky is failing its workers. In this news special, hear from the reporters behind the series about the problems facing Kentucky’s worker safety program and what’s happened since the stories came out.

The Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting’s Eleanor Klibanoff talks about what she found going through thousands of pages of fatality inspections and dozens of federal reports.

The Kentucky Occupational Safety and Health agency failed to properly investigate nearly every worker death in a two-year period, according to a federal audit and analysis by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting. Those findings revealed that these shortcomings leave Kentucky workers at risk, and could lead to federal intervention into the state-run program.

It also leaves families of deceased workers without answers. That’s what Jeff Young, managing editor of the Ohio Valley ReSource found when talking to the Oakley family. Their 17-year-old son Grant died on his second day of work. A local prosecutor says he was delayed in his efforts to seek justice on the family’s behalf due to the insufficient KY OSH investigation.

And hear from Jim Morris, from the Center for Public Integrity, about how Kentucky stacks up to the other 28 state-run worker safety programs. While other states, like Arizona, are struggling in their own ways, Morris says Kentucky is an outlier in the eyes of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration that oversees it.

Since the series was released,the reporters have been gathering reaction and response from families, advocates and elected leaders. But those in charge of the agency -- the state Labor Cabinet and the governor -- have been silent.

Klibanoff went to ask Gov. Matt Bevin directly about these findings. Listen to his response, and more, on the news special in the player above.